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Chris Lane, PhD student in the Human Movement Science Curriculum program, recently received a Southern Association of Health Professions Deans (SAHPD) Student Leadership, Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Award. This award is given to students in an allied health related field who demonstrate leadership in DEI and/or reducing health disparities.

“I am thrilled that my work in DEI committees and health services and disparities research has been recognized through this award,” said Lane. “As a biracial, first-generation college student who grew up in a racially and geographically diverse city in North Carolina, I have always valued diversity and inclusion and have been motivated to promote DEI in clinical and academic settings.”

Lane is currently a 5th year PhD student in the Human Movement Science program and graduated from the Division of Physical Therapy with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) in 2019. During his time in Chapel Hill, Lane has been involved in multiple DEI committees related to the Department of Health Sciences and the School of Medicine. During committee meetings, he and other students have had the opportunity to share their perspectives of various challenges that they face.

Throughout his studies, Lane noticed that the sociodemographic characteristics of many health and research professions do not reflect those of North Carolina or the United States. Clinical care and research can both be enhanced by greater diversity among their professionals and leaders, as clinical care and research should serve all communities. These perspectives were echoed by other students through a survey and focus group Lane coordinated.

Lane also helped develop goals for the Department of Health Sciences for social justice and DEI in the learning environment. Mentoring programs targeting students from underrepresented backgrounds helped him navigate through his undergraduate and graduate programs, and he hopes to give back by serving as a mentor for other students through working with the Students in Training, in Academia, Health, and Research (STAHR) mentoring program.

His research interests are centered on health services and disparities. More specifically, he has focused on access to physical therapy services and disparities in access and health outcomes and has disseminated this work through presentations and publications.

The financial support from this award will help Lane continue his studies and will allow him to commit additional time and resources to finishing his dissertation project, which examines potential disparities in treatment use for people with ACL injury. Lane’s long-term goal is to become a productive faculty member who will assess and address health disparities and mentor others.